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It’s tough to hunker down and eat clean for weeks or months on end. You gotta get your mind right so you can bypass all the yummy desserts, frothy drinks, creamy soups and fried foods. And dieting is not exciting either. I mean, you’re eating plain foods like oatmeal instead of the waffles with strawberries and cream that you’d normally devour. It’s hard turning your back on all that delicious food. Trying to lose weight is truly a mindset and a lifestyle that you have to immerse yourself into and commit totally to in order for it to work.
But what if I told you that it’s possible to cheat on your diet and still lose weight? Well, I am here to tell you that it is possible. Don’t believe me? Well, you should. I cheat all the time and still lose weight. However, I do it within certain boundaries. I religiously follow these 8 cheat day rules that allow me to shed pounds but still eat sugar. Let me tell you how it works. Keep reading…
MY CHEAT DAY RULES
Have you ever flipped through a magazine at the grocery check-out and seen articles about how that magazine helped a group of women lose weight? Well, I had the opportunity to do that. A few years ago, I was part of a weight loss challenge run by Redbook magazine. It was an awesome experience. I lost weight during the challenge and I still follow the workouts and meal plans I learned to keep the weight off. I also learned lots of tips and tricks from celeb trainers and nutritionists on how to drop the weight.
I was about two months into my Redbook Wedding Dress Challenge. I was talking to my nutritionist during my weekly check-in/weigh-in session. Let’s call her Rebecca. During these calls, I would talk to Rebecca about what I ate that week, what worked, what didn’t work and my feelings. I looked forward to these calls as they kept me accountable and on track. As I rattled off to Rebecca what I ate that week, she asked me if I was sad. I said, “No, I’m fine. Why?” Rebecca replied that I sounded sad and I was like, “Really? I sound sad?” She was like, “Yes.” Rebecca paused for a minute and then she said to me, “I think it’s time for you to eat something sweet.” I got real happy, real quick. Rebecca reasoned that it is healthy to splurge. I had been steadily losing weight for a few months and I hadn’t gone off the diet so in Rebecca’s eyes, it was okay to have a cheat. But Rebecca gave me some strict guidelines that I will share with you on how to cheat on my diet and still lose weight. Ready for some awesome, realistic, cheat day rules? Here we go….
Cheat Day Rule #1 – The Power of ONE
You can cheat but let’s be clear here. You want to splurge in a controlled way. Before you get all excited, know that the splurge consists of one thing. The splurge is not a cheat meal or a cheat day. It is just ONE thing like a cupcake or a piece of cake! Got it? Now, when you reach your normal weight or are close to it, you can have a cheat meal or cheat day. So don’t get discouraged because those things will come. But while you are trying to jumpstart getting the weight off, you need to stick to just one cheat food.
Cheat Day Rule #2 – Once a week
Out of all the cheat day rules, this is the most important one. You are allowed a cheat once a week. More specifically, every 7 days, you can have one cheat food. No exceptions.
Cheat Day Rule #3 – One Helping
As much as possible, only eat one serving, one helping or portion of your cheat food. This is not the time to get that huge hunk of cake or fill up your entire bowl with ice cream. Eat a normal amount of your cheat, enjoy it and move on. And don’t even think about seconds!
Cheat Day Rule #4 – Plan It
Plan your splurges. This is actually my favorite out of all my cheat day rules because it gives me something to look forward to. You know the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Every week, try to plan your cheat based on your weekly activities and schedule. If you know ahead of time that you are going to a birthday party or some other outing, plan your cheat for that day. Set yourself up for success.
Cheat Day Rule #5 – Buy in Portion Individual Sizes
I love ice cream but I refuse to buy a half-gallon of it and put it in my freezer. Why? Because I will eat all of it at one sitting. Well, maybe not all of it but most of it. Did you know they sell ice cream in portion sizes? Yes, they do! And I’m not talking about a pint of ice cream either. I buy the Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream in the 3.6 ounce container. Find your favorite snacks in their portion-controlled size and use that for your cheat.
Also, invest in a good Digital Food Scale so you can at least your food if it’s not in a prepackaged portion size. Personally, I use the Ozeri Pronto Digital Food Scale to measure out my food. Cuz if my hubby brings home a half-gallon of ice cream, I’m gonna measure out the correct serving size if I choose to eat it for my cheat.
Cheat Day Rule #6 – Don’t Keep it in the House
Don’t buy your favorite snack and keep in the house for your weekly cheat. If you do this, you are setting yourself up for failure. As much as possible, buy one cheat item at a time. In other words, buy one candy bar from 7-Eleven on your splurge day. Don’t buy a case of candy bars from Costco and say to yourself, “I’ll eat one per week for my splurge.” But in all honesty, this is the hardest of all the cheat day rules for me to follow. Because I don’t live alone. I live with my husband and kids and they like to eat stuff that I struggle with. So, I’ll be honest and say that there’s always bad food in my house. I just gotta stay strong and committed to my goals.
Cheat Day Rule #7 – We Fall Down, But We Get Up
Just remember not to let your splurge turn into a whole day of eating bad or just a complete abandonment of your program and goals. Whatever happens, know that each day is new and you can start over. If you fall off the wagon, brush yourself off and get back on quickly. Don’t wallow in disappoint or beat yourself up. Just move on quickly and get back to the program. I can’t sit here and tell you that I didn’t have days when my one splurge turned into a whole cheat day or I wanted to quit the program. It happens. Just get back to the plan as soon as you can.
Cheat Day Rule #8 – Find Healthy Substitutes
I don’t know if this is technically a cheat day rule. But hey, I added it in because I thought it was important. Honestly, you can have a cheat EVERY day. You just have to think of it differently. At least that’s what I told myself. Here’s what I do. What I found really helped me was finding a healthy snack that I loved to eat. That way, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on dessert or anything because I was eating a snack after dinner like everyone else.
I LOVE ice cream and my substitute for ice cream is Fage 2% yogurt with honey. I do not feel deprived eating my Fage yogurt with honey for dessert. As a matter of fact, my husband started eating it and now loves it because he saw me eating it so much. At first, when the kids went to bed, we’d meet on the couch to eat our snacks, watch TV and unwind. He’d yell from the kitchen, “You want some ice cream?”. I’d say, “No, I’m eating my yogurt (or chocolate rice cakes or yogurt smoothie)”. “Your taste buds have changed”, he’d scream back from the kitchen. And they had. And I was happy about that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still eat ice cream and cupcakes on occasion. But I know that I can’t eat them every day like I used to. I normally splurge on a dessert, like a cupcake during the weekend.
Listen, I know that dieting is not easy. But let me be honest. Looking forward to a cupcake or bowl of ice cream is sometimes all that keeps me going while dieting. Is that just me or can you relate? I don’t believe in hardcore dieting for weeks or months on end. Your body will rebel or you’ll just one day get up and eat everything you’ve been shunning and craving for months. You don’t have to punish yourself or go into a complete food lockdown while you’re trying to lose weight. Do you have to mostly avoid sweets, processed and fried foods while dieting? Absolutely yes. But following the above cheat day rules, you can still indulge a little and keep losing weight.
As a busy mom of 3 girls, I’m all about doing things that actually work in real life. I hope this blog post has given you some realistic guidelines as to how you can drop pounds while still getting your snack on. I’ve shown you how I do it and hopefully you can do it, too.
Oh, and don’t forget to let me know in the comments your favorite cheat food. I think you probably figured out from reading this blog post that mine is ice cream 🙂